How erotic fanfiction lets women explore their sexuality without shame

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Welcome to No Shame November! This week we’re diving into the pop culture we love that society tells us we shouldn’t.


Masturbating to horny fanfiction makes the world a better place.

Now, before your eyebrows fly right off your face (looking at you, literary snobs), hear me out. Because I know. “Smutty” or erotic fanfiction is almost always talked about in tones of either horror or mockery.

And it’s true: In the multiplicity of fanfiction, there’s a ship (aka “relationship”) for all to sail on — including even those who gets off on Harry Potter fucking the Giant Squid.

We could waste our energy shaming, judging, and deriding the endless possibilities imagined by horny fans online. Or, we could get off our high horse and celebrate the only bastion of sexual exploration that makes a space for everyone, no matter who they are or what they like. 

Specifically, fanfiction can often be a haven for women, LGBTQ folks, people of color, the kinky, and all others whose sexual desires are all but invisible to mainstream media, from movies to porn.

Either give us gay Dumbledore, or stop retconning diversity, J .K. Rowling

Either give us gay Dumbledore, or stop retconning diversity, J .K. Rowling

“In the media, representations of sexuality are still mostly white, cisgendered, and heterosexual,” said Chelsea Reynolds, an assistant professor at California State University Fullerton studying sex in media. “For many, fanfiction represents an important site of resistance, sexual exploration, and identity transformation.”

In the mainsteam, women are rarely presented as the agents of their own sexuality. Whether they’re the damsels in distress of idyllic romance movies like The Notebook or femme fatales, we’re usually playing out someone else’s fantasy. 

LGBTQ visibility might be improving, but as Reynolds said, it’s still often queerbaiting (that’s you, Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald and Solo: A Star Wars Story). 

Otherwise, “Gay men tend to be shown as having secretive, lustful relationships, as in Brokeback Mountain, while lesbians and bi women are hypersexual womanizers, a la The L Word.”

And kink? The sexual landscape of pop culture is so vanilla we must even thank fanfiction for the one remotely kinky mainstream example, since Fifty Shades of Grey originated as a Twilight fic.

Fanfiction can be a laboratory where people can experience where their sexual limits are.”

“Fanfiction is certainly giving people something that really no other media can give right now,” said Anne Jamison, University of Utah associate professor and author of Fic: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World. From her perspective, fanfiction can be a laboratory where people can experience where their sexual limits are.”

In part, that’s why the “weird” (i.e. what lies outside social norms) tends to thrive in fanfiction. 

But the shameless sexual fantasizing fanfiction offers goes far beyond just ridiculous erotica. Women in particular dominate the community, and there’s good reason for why many feel more invited to explore their desires there than, say, in traditional visual porn.

“If you want to look at it as a cliche, it turns out women usually like being in relationships with the people we have sex with,” explained Francesca Coppa, a Muhlenberg English professor who helps run community websites like Archive of Our Own. “And that extends to fictional characters.”

Essentially, Coppa sees erotic fanfiction as a way of, “putting relationships back into the porn.” Because apparently, “backstory tends to be sexually important to women.” And fanfiction comes with characters you’ve already built a profound connection with as a fan.

In her book The Fanfiction Reader, Coppa calls this unique phenomenon in erotic fanfic “subjectification,” or the exact opposite of the “objectification” of porn reducing people to bodies.

In erotic fanfiction — even ones dubbed “porn without plot” — authors are still adding to a character’s established story and relationships. “They’re made to be more well-rounded than the average protagonist, rather than less well-rounded.”

Your welcome for 'Fifty Shades of Grey,' I guess?

Your welcome for ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ I guess?

“I think it helps us achieve orgasm, knowing these people like each other, or hate each other, or know each other,” she said. Anonymous sex might be one of your kinks, “But fanfiction is actually about having sex with somebody you do know.”

Don’t get us wrong: That’s not to say fanfiction is all happy, healthy, sentimental, softcore lovemaking. Actually, much of it is the opposite, offering deep dives into what many consider the more disturbing avenues of sexuality.

But there are reasons for that, too. And Coppa sees it as part of the “fundamental feminist difference” between text-based erotica like fanfiction versus visual porn.

“You can explore things on the page that don’t hurt actual, real people,” she said, comparing that to the moral dilemmas of violent pornography. “In fanfiction, I know no physical bodies were coerced to do anything in the making of the erotica.”

That’s not to say that all porn is coercive. But even ethical feminist-made porn requires an IRL body be used in an exploration of your sexual fantasies. For those with a taste for BDSM, power imbalances, or other kinks, that raises a lot of not-so-sexy concerns.

“But fanfiction can create an environment where people can ethically have an orgasm — which I am in favor of,” Coppa said.

“Fanfiction can create an environment where people can ethically have an orgasm — which I am in favor of.”

In a similar vein, unlike even erotica in romance novels, fanfiction remains one of the last forms of media that’s not beholden to turning sexual fantasies into a profit.

“It’s a community space that we own, that’s not governed by commercial relationships,” Coppa said. “With everything else, you want a safe space to explore, but you’re always already working from a framework where commercial and capitalist interests are at play. Which is particularly dangerous when it comes to sex.”

Because for better or more often worse, money changes a sexual situation.

Another feminist difference in fanfiction comes from its relationship to the concept of consent.

“It’s not universally true by any means, but fanfiction has been way ahead of the game in presenting consent [as] part of the erotic process,” said Jamison.

A lot of even the most hardcore erotic fanfiction has, since the early days, shown how BDSM and kink (when done right) requires explicit conversations about what’s OK, what’s not OK, what feels good, and why communicating sexual limits matters.

In short, fanfiction was making consent sexy long before #MeToo or even feminist porn caught on. The use of content and trigger warnings are, generally speaking, a community standard for most erotic fanfiction websites — especially for those that are categorized as “darkfic.”

In Archive of Our Own, for example, you can search the extensive database based on gender and sexual orientation pairings, or even include or exclude stories with trigger warnings for depictions of rape, graphic violence, or underage sex. That’s all in addition to the litany of other terms and tropes authors explicitly warn readers about in their disclaimers.

Before it was canon, Jonerys was a favorite 'Game of Thrones' fanfiction ship

Before it was canon, Jonerys was a favorite ‘Game of Thrones’ fanfiction ship

Anecdotally I can say that, as a young teen who explored her own nascent sexuality through smutty Harry Potter fic, they were where my first introductions to the concepts of consent, BDSM, and kink. And also, some of the best examples I could’ve asked for. 

“In communities like mine where it’s abstinence-only education, young people are getting actual information about sexuality in fanfiction,” said the Utah professor Jamison. “Sometimes it’s the only information about sexuality they’re getting.”

For some (particularly parents), that can sound like a terrifying prospect. And of course, the ideal would be for parents to talk to young people one-on-one about these concepts. But, boy, am I glad my early explorations happened with the guidance of fanfiction writers rather than porn. 

Moral panic over what kids might accidentally stumble upon in erotic fanfiction negates the steps most sites take to ensure readers actively consent to the content. There’s often extra “lock” screens for NC-17 stories, warning readers of the type of situations they’re going to read about.

“What you fantasize about does not mean that you really want it to happen to you, or that you want to do it.”

Yet somehow, visual porn sites are still more accepted as the “normal” kind of risk that comes with letting your kid go on the internet.

Also, unlike the disturbing stuff that dominates porn, exploring rape or even incest fantasies through erotic fanfiction requires a certain level of psychological confrontation into why we like it.

“There’s no interiority in porn,” said Jamison. “So if you’re interested in working out how the interior of your body and the exterior of your body are working through issues, porn isn’t going to do that for you.”

Which is a shame, Coppa pointed out, because there’s lots to be gained from understanding common trends, like why so many women gravitate toward rape fantasies.

“What you fantasize about does not mean that you really want it to happen to you, or that you want to do it,” said Coppa. “A lot of rape fantasies are the fantasy of a guy who knows what you want when you yourself don’t even know how to ask for it.”

While that’s obviously not how real-world rape works, the fantasy gives women — often socially conditioned to repress sexual urges — the freedom to explore what they like without the shame of being a “slut.”

Not to mention that when you write your own fanfiction, “You might write yourself to be out of control in the fantasy, but it’s still your fantasy! You are always in control,” said Jamison.

Both Jamison and Coppa cautioned, however, that even fanfiction communities still doll out their fair amount of shame toward those certain genres, tropes, and ships deemed problematic.

“People want us to think responsibly about what we fantasize about,” said Coppa. “But in our quest for good representation — which is important — we’ve gotten very over-literal in our understanding of how reality versus fantasy works.”

“We’ve gotten very over-literal in our understanding of how reality versus fantasy works.”

Jamison said that, weirdly, this distinction is understood in all other types of media. No one assumes that true crime fans are murderers. “I always find it outrageous that people think your fantasy or fictional life maps on exactly to what your erotic preferences are. If that were the case, you wouldn’t find so many queer women shipping [heterosexual] ships or vice versa.”

For example: by far the most popular erotic fanfiction genre is slash fic, or stories that put canonically straight characters in homosexual relationships. Fascinatingly, gay men appear to be a minority among the writers and readers of slash. Mostly, it’s straight women and lesbians.

Coppa explained that, counterintuitively, this is because that particular fantasy, “is actually about women’s pleasure, and not really about trying to tell accurate gay male stories.”

Male slash fic dominates, but Xena and Gabrielle is a wildly popular femmeslash couple

Male slash fic dominates, but Xena and Gabrielle is a wildly popular femmeslash couple

Those stories also exist in fanfiction, of course. But generally, slash attracts women because it lets them fantasize about sex without the constraints of their gender.

“If you want to write a relationship between equals, writing about two men sort of unlocks powerful subjects,” she continued. The “sameness” of the two bodies and genders coincide with characters who have similar social, metaphorical, or physical power. “So slash isn’t about gay men, but often women’s fantasies of equality in a patriarchy.”

And, as Coppa aptly noted, “If you’re a straight woman, having two guys to look at is never a bad thing.”

“It’s OK to just read fanfiction, wank off, and not be working for justice.” 

All in all, erotic fanfiction gives women an escape from all the social inhibitions that keep us from experiencing pleasure IRL. 

“When you masturbate, you don’t want to think about all the social issues that are bugging you,” Coppa said. “Women get lot of shame sexually. Not just for being sexual, but in feeling like we always have to be doing good for the world. But, you know, it’s OK to just read fanfiction, wank off, and not be working for justice.”

But in a way, getting off to erotic fanfiction in spite of all the shame society thrusts upon you is in itself an act of resistance. 

“Imagine how mindblowing NC-17 fanfiction must be for a person with disabilities or someone whose family and social group doesn’t approve of their sexuality,” said Reynolds, the media scholar.

So many people’s pleasure is left out of mainstream media. So make the world a better place, and cum to the dark side of smutty fanfiction.

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Why You Should Work Out More Often

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Photo by Kyle Johnson on Unsplash


You should work out more often if you want to build muscle faster. Seems simple, right?

The truth is, regular, busy guys (who aren’t on steroids) must train differently than the doped up bodybuilders typically doling out muscle building advice.

You’ll be much better off training more often. Here’s why:

Build The Habit

When it comes to looking great naked, your long-term habits play a critical role in determining your results. Going from 30-day challenge to 30-day challenge isn’t a winning formula–training consistently over time is. Unfortunately, most guys change exercises and programs far too often. They give into the monkey-mind mentality and rarely give their body a chance to work. By training more often, you’ll reinforce sound training as a daily habit, not rely on short spurts of motivation.

Increase Your Motor Learning

If you’ve never done squats before, you’ll probably look like a drunk baby giraffe for the first few reps.

Why?

Well, you haven’t learned the basic movement pattern yet. Any time you adopt a new physical activity, their is a motor learning curve. You must familiarize yourself with exercises until they become natural. Only once they become natural can you train long enough and hard enough to build muscle.

This begs the question: how can you improve your rate of motor learning?

Much like learning a language, frequency is key. The more often you practice a language OR training with particular exercises, the faster become familiar and yes, grow.

Why You Should Workout

Photo by Daniel Apodaca on Unsplash

Boost Protein Synthesis

When you train a muscle you’ll trigger muscle protein synthesis–the biological trigger to building muscle. The more often you train a muscle the more protein synthesis you’ll trigger and hence, the more muscle you can build.

High movement frequency is the key that unlocks the protein synthesis process. Studies have shown that protein synthesis responds to resistance training and lasts about 24-48 hours afterward. In other words, a training muscle often, say three times per week rather\ than once, increases the number of protein synthesis spikes within a a target muscle, thereby increasing your protein for growth.

Also, protein synthesis keeps you in an anabolic (muscle building) state and keeps your testosterone levels elevated. As a result, you can expect to make consistent gains in size and strength.

What Does All This Mean?

When it comes to building muscle, you’re better off training a muscle multiple times throughout the week. By training more often, you’ll reinforce the habit of training consistently. You’ll improve on the most important muscle building movements quicker. Finally, you’ll trigger protein synthesis more often, leading to quicker muscle muscle.

*****

Follow Eric and get tons of awesome fitness advice on his Instagram at Bach Performance.

More From Eric Bach On BroBible: 

Why Most Fat Loss Diets Fail: And Two Better Options To Achieve Actual Results

4 Ways To Dominate Workouts While Traveling, Even If The Hotel Gym Is Trash

4 Exercises That Will Power Up Your Training And Keep Your Body Young

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NASA Is Investigating SpaceX For Potential Safety Violations Because Elon Musk Smoked Weed

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elon musk nasa weed

The Joe Rogan Experience

Most articles on the internet open with some sort of lede to ease the reader into a story, often offering a little bit of background information and setting up the rest of the piece.

However, instead of doing that, I’m going to ask all of you to look at the picture at the top of the page and take a moment to appreciate the greatest screenshot in the history of the internet— a piece of modern art that could go toe-to-toe with the likes of Basquiat and Duchamp any day of the week.

If you’re unfamiliar with the origins of this iconic slice of history, it comes from the legendary night when Elon Musk joined The Joe Rogan Experience to smoke some weed, drink some whiskey, talk about apes, and say “It’s entirely possible” a bunch of times.

It was an amazing night to witness live but one which Musk might have woken up regretting, as it didn’t take long for government narcs to start looking into whether or not he’d violated the terms of his contract with the Air Force by doing marijuana.

However, it appears that’s not the only federal aviation organization that’s concerned about his use of certain substances.

According to The Washington Post, NASA is now looking into SpaceX for potential safety issues— an investigation multiple sources say was sparked after he sparked up with Rogan.

The agency didn’t address what actually initiated the review (they’ll also take a look at conditions at Boeing) but a spokesperson said it was vital government contractors maintain a “drug-free environment” for employees.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine elaborated on the reasoning, saying:

“If I see something that’s inappropriate, the key concern to me is what is the culture that led to that inappropriateness and is NASA involved in that…

As an agency we’re not just leading ourselves, but our contractors, as well. We need to show the American public that when we put an astronaut on a rocket, they’ll be safe.”

This isn’t the first time marijuana has gotten Musk into hot water. In September, the SpaceX CEO was hit with a $20 million fine by the SEC after he made a joke about the Weed Number on Twitter.

Worth it.

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Saudi Arabia Plans to Issue Their Own Digital Coin in 2019

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Saudi Arabia Plans to Issue Their Own Digital Coin in 2019

Many countries are considering the development of their own cryptocurrencies, however the progress has been so far slow. The desert country of Saudi Arabia on the other hand is considering launching its digital currency by the mid of 2019. Saudi Arabia’s national currency will be backed by the central bank of the nation. The working group is presently evaluating the impact of a national virtual currency on the country’s economy, as it has been reported by BTC Wires.

Despite the falling prices of Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies hold a lot of potential. Corporates and consumers these days prefer to transact in digital cash, hence governments across the world will have to meet this rising demand. The best solution is for nations’ is to issue their native digital currency.

Saudi Arabia has been on the path of the development of such a currency after partnering with the United Arab Emirates. The viability of such a currency in the nation’s economic framework is being inspected by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority. The native currency is expected to hit the markets by next year and it is slated to be be backed by a limited number of banks. The development of the currency was conceived as a way to enhance the cross border payments system.

They aim to be ahead of national’s backed cryptocurrencies with the news of the country issuing its crypto by 2019. Facilitation and streamlining of cross border payments will not only benefit the country’s business community but it will also help consumers in paying for necessities without incurring much transaction costs.

Venezuela, taken as an example, was one of the first ones to explore this idea, and in March they launched a pre-sale of their very own digital currency, called the Petro

A lot of countries have thus far mulled plans for creating their native digital currency, however most of them have not been put into motion. Venezuela, taken as an example, was one of the first ones to explore this idea, and in March they launched a pre-sale of their very own digital currency, called the Petro.

As it was said by the nation’s president, Nicolas Maduro, the idea for the petro came from Hugo Chavez, who had foreseen a “strong currency backed by raw materials”, according to the government’s white paper on the petro. Announced in December 2017, the petro is intended to supplement Venezuela’s bolivar fuerte (VEF) currency and help overcome US sanctions. One of the main characteristic will be that Petros will be “pre-mined”, meaning the government would produce and control it. As of today, Venezuela has allocated five billion barrels of oil to back its new digital currency, which will be tied to the cost of a barrel of Venezuelan oil.

Interestingly, the news of the potential launch of Saudi Arabia’s native currency comes amidst a time when Ripple seems to making inroads in Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, Saudi Arabia’s National Commerce Bank is a member of RippleNet, a global payments network. Early in 2018, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority had even carried out a Ripple-based Blockchain pilot.

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This picture of hellish LA traffic shows why we need a transportation revolution

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LA thanksgiving traffic

  • More than 54 million Americans are expected to hit the road this week for Thanksgiving travel.
  • A video of Los Angeles posted Tuesday night showed how bad the traffic already is on the city’s notorious freeways.
  • Elon Musk’s Boring Company can’t open its tunnels soon enough for frustrated LA drivers — but it remains to be seen how effective they’ll be at mitigating congestion.

More than 24 hours before Thanksgiving, Los Angeles freeways were already packed to the brim with motorists.

A video tweeted by NBC Los Angeles on Tuesday night showed just how welcome anything to reduce traffic congestion would be.

Of course, Los Angeles is notorious for its traffic on a normal workday, and Thanksgiving travelers are only making the situation worse. More than 54 million Americans are expected to hit the road this week for holiday travel, according to AAA.

But there could soon be hope for the thousands of people stuck in crawling LA traffic. The first tunnel by Elon Musk’s Boring Company — which wants to reduce congestion via a system of underground tunnels, along the same right-of-way as freeways, that transports passengers in pods — is set to open December 10 in Hawthorne, the billionaire has said.

Weather could also make Thanksgiving travel worse. David Roth, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told Reuters there’s a substantial chance of heavy rain in California on Thursday.

Read more: Elon Musk’s Boring Company is opening a ‘brick store’ — here’s a first look

Critics have said Musk’s plan to ease traffic congestion wouldn’t work as well as public transit, especially since a pod would be limited to 16 people. (Subway cars, for example, can carry upwards of 100 passengers, and a bus can carry dozens of people.) What’s more, costs that have historically plagued would-be tunnel builders are still astronomical.

For now, you’re better off leaving bright and early on Thursday for holiday travel, if you haven’t already. According to data from Google, 4 a.m. is your best bet to beat LA traffic. Here’s how congestion peaks over the holiday:

Los Angeles Traffic Google Data

Given up on driving? Business Insider rounded up some of the best Black Friday holiday flight deals.

SEE ALSO: This picture of gridlock traffic in LA shows why we need self-driving cars

Join the conversation about this story »

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